The New York Times has a nice overview article on a new literary festival launching in Paris later this week, and run in part by Caro Llewellyn who directed the PEN World Voices Festival a few years back:
Paris is reaching out to recapture its place as a center of literature with a new festival of international writers that was set to begin Friday.
“There’s a sense in America that France is a country of culture, but when you are looking from the inside, a lot of people have been complaining that France needs to find its beating heart again,” said Lila Azam Zanganeh, a French-Iranian writer who now lives in New York and is one of the writers participating in the festival, Écrivains du Monde. [. . .]
The Écrivains du Monde festival may not, on its own, recreate the vibrant sense of literary experimentation and adventure of the first half of the 20th century, when Paris was home to the likes of Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco, but it marks a new appreciation of the primacy of international writing, in a country that despite a complex relationship with outsiders, has always embraced their contribution to the arts. [. . .]
The inaugural festival draws together some 28 writers from at least 18 countries. Most are not French themselves, but they have been translated into French and have a French following. The authors, who are speaking for small stipends, include some of the best-known fiction writers at work today: Salman Rushdie, John Banville, Richard Ford, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, David Grossman, Ma Jian and Michael Ondaatje. Also attending are several authors who write in French although not all of them are from France, including two from Lebanon and a Canadian-Haitian. The writers, who are coming for three days to Paris, with a few going on to spend two days in Lyon on Sept. 23 and 24, will hold intimate — and sometimes not so intimate — talks with their readers and literary enthusiasts. Panel discussions will take on topics like the challenges of translation, identity and conflict, literature and war.
Though far from the most convincing reason to read literature in translation, one common side effect is learning of another culture, of its history. Within that, and a stronger motivation to read, is the discovery of stories not possible within. . .
Despite cries that literature is dead, dying, and self-replicating in the worst way, once in a while a book comes along to remind readers that there’s still a lot of surprise to be found on the printed page. To be. . .
“I was small. And my village was small, I came to know that in time. But when I was small it was big for me, so big that when I had to cross it from one end to the other,. . .
A few weeks after moving into a farm house in the Welsh countryside, Emilie, an expatriate from the Netherlands, starts to think about her uncle. This uncle tried to drown himself in a pond in front of the hotel where. . .
Think back to the last adventure- or action-type book you read. Wasn’t it cool? Didn’t it make you want to do things, like learn to shoot a crossbow, hack complicated information systems, travel to strange worlds, take on knife-wielding thugs,. . .
In Aira’s Shantytown, while we’re inside the characters’ heads for a good portion of the story, the voice we read on the page is really that of Aira himself, as he works out the plot of the book he’s writing.. . .
Noir is not an easy genre to define—or if it once was, that was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away; as a quick guess, maybe Silver Lake, Los Angeles, 1935. When two books as different as. . .
Some time ago I read this phrase: “The page is the only place in the universe God left blank for me.”
Pedro Mairal’s short novel The Missing Year of Juan Salvatierra is more about these blank spaces than the usual full. . .
“What if even in the afterlife you have to know foreign languages? Since I have already suffered so much trying to speak Danish, make sure to assign me to the Polish zone . . .”
So reads a typical aphoristic “poem”. . .
If you somehow managed to overlook the 2012 translation of Andrés Neuman’s breathtaking Traveler of the Century (and woe betide all whom continue to do so), you now have two exceptional works of fiction from the young Argentine virtuoso demanding. . .